I’m a tennis junkie. While the U.S. Open is my favorite, I enjoy watching all of the slams, and today was the men’s final at the French Open. I was not surprised to see Nadal win; after all, it’s his best surface.

For the women, it was a different story: Sam Stosur vs Francesca Schiavone. Stosur had done all of the heavy lifting getting to the final, beating out the likes of Jankovic and Henin. She was favored to win it all. But what she didn’t count on was Schiavone’s distinct belief in herself. The odds were in Stosur’s favor, yet Schiavone believed.

Earlier in the tournament, I was watching some commentary by Mary Carillo on what’s wrong with the women’s game these days: It’s all about the serve, and if you ain’t got it, you can’t win it. There’s no strategy or technique, the fundamentals are scarce.

Then you have someone like Serena Williams, who undoubtedly has one of the biggest service games on the tour. But she doesn’t rely on it as the only weapon in her arsenal. By far, her greatest strength (and physical strength is a given) is her constant belief in her own abilities. Yes, sometimes she aggravates the hell out of me with what could be interpreted as arrogance. I don’t even like her sportsmanship, especially when she has verbally obliterated linespeople. She’s insisted that she’s the true number one on the tour when the ranking has been earned by someone else. Her character is indeed flawed.

And yet, she has this unwavering belief in her abilities that is intimidating and awe-inspiring at the same time. She can psych the opponent out by one sideways glance. She exudes confidence, and you just don’t question it. Even when she’s losing at match point, in her eyes, it is evident. She still believes.

What can we take from this? People talk in terms of “confidence.” Confidence, to me, is the external projection of what I truly believe on the inside. Sometimes what I believe to be true is accurate, and sometimes my own disbelief has cost me. What you believe about yourself has a direct correlation to what others believe about you. People can believe in you even when you don’t, and that’s great, but it’s short-lived. When you possess the kind of belief that cannot be shaken or moved, it promotes a kind of trajectory, an internal movement. It’s palpable and inspirational and creates enthusiasm in others.

I’m in a search for this kind of belief in myself. It’s not just a confidence thing, it’s what feeds it. I think it’s common for women to question themselves and seek validation– people-pleasing behavior. So, I’m going to actively shut that off and focus on what I know from my own legitimate experiences, education, and training. Not arrogance, not even confidence, I’m just going to believe. And soon you’ll believe me too.

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